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New York Public Library to Rebuild outdated Donnell Library Branch


Aging library branch will be rebuilt as a "state-of-the-art" circulating library in the same location

New York City, Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - The New York Public Library (the "Library") today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell the land and building of the Donnell Library, located at 24 West 53rd Street, to Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. The Library will build a new, "state-of-the-art" Donnell Library in an 11-story hotel building that Orient-Express will construct on the site. The Library will receive $59 million in cash, in addition to the value of the library space, which it will own and occupy. Proceeds from the sale will also support significant capital needs at other branch libraries.

"Our agreement with Orient-Express presents an extraordinary opportunity for us to create a modern, new circulating library at the same location as our current Donnell facility, which was opened in 1955, and is outdated," said David Offensend, Chief Operating Officer of the New York Public Library. "The cost of renovating Donnell is prohibitive. With this agreement, we'll be able to embark on the creation of a technologically advanced Donnell Library for our users, one that can set the standard for the 21st century."

The current library will close to the public in fall 2008, and the rebuilding is expected to be completed in no more than three-and-one-half years. Currently, the Donnell Library's infrastructure is in dire need of repair. Among the issues that need to be addressed in the aging building; the HVAC system is outdated, the elevator system is the oldest in the entire Library system and electrical capacities are inefficient to support technology such as computers. The cost of those renovations is estimated at $48 million.

The new Donnell Library will occupy three levels, including the ground floor, of the new building. The Library will seek a temporary site to provide Donnell's essential services to the public during the rebuilding, and will develop a detailed plan to make its collections available at other locations of the New York Public Library. During the construction period, Library staff will be reassigned to the temporary site or to other locations. All information about the temporary site and Donnell's essential services to the public will be announced on the Library's website ( well before Donnell closes for its rebuilding.

"New York Public Library users deserve a circulating library branch that is designed and meets the demands of the computer age," said Offensend. "Rebuilding the Donnell Library will achieve that in the most cost-effective way."


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